Prospect Awards Finalists 2014: Minerals Processing of the Year

The short-list of finalists for this year’s Minerals Processing award has been revealed.

Chute Technology

Chute Technology has been nominated for Minerals Processing of the Year for its development of chutes and complementary systems that permit faster conveyor speeds, greater throughputs, fewer breakdowns and enhanced safety.

It comes at a time when more and more miners are looking to minerals processing and the materials handling stage to gain site productivities.

The Chute Technology engineering group targets problems common to many coal and ore plants and loading systems by addressing them with a combination of three skill sets, including anadvanced engineering analysis of flow, followed by upscaleable 3D Discrete Element Method (DEM) design processes and finally custom manufacturing to individual plant needs.

Major benefits of the chute design technologies have already been demonstrated in service with a West Australian iron ore producer which increased production by several million tonnes, or 50 per cent. 

Several Hunter Valley coal mines, meanwhile, are also benefitting from less wear and fewer breakdowns because of practical individualised designs produced by one of the partners in Chute Technology, long-established Hunter Valley mining industry supplier T.W. Woods.

Colombus Group

Colombus Group has been nominated for the Minerals Processing of the Year award for its MiT load washers which automatically measure tension on SAG Mill bolts.

MiT Load Washer measures tension on critical bolts and ensures yield strength limits are not exceeded. 

By contrast, torque readings can have large errors with lubrication, cross threading and poorly machined bolts.

Different forms of near field communications (NFC) attached to each MiT Load Washer frees up the interconnection networks, with literally millions of monitored points available, where battery and remote recharge management, rounds out the package, above ground, underground and undersea.

As well as the attached electronics, the MiT Load Washers come with a captured two part seal mechanism that squeezes into the bold threads and against the hard sealing surfaces for a positive retention of product, particularly with worn SAG Mill mounting holes.

According to the Colombus Group the Mit Load Washer electronics are built with a specialised 3D printer that produces reliable and rugged calibrated printed circuit blocks with built in tension, temperature and vibration sensors.


For its continued development of a more sustainable cyanide free method of gold processing, the CSIRO has been nominated for Minerals Processing of the Year.

Gold processing currently involves the use of environmentally hazardous cyanide, adding a raft of legal and regulatory burdens to operating as well as significant safety and environmental risks.

Many of these complex ores contain high levels of soluble copper, which consume the cyanide used to process the gold requiring larger amounts of the toxic chemical which further increases the ongoing environmental risk.

Speaking to Paul Breuer at the CSIRO, he said that research is currently developing gold processes using thiosulfate as an alternative lixiviant to cyanide and have made some major breakthroughs.

The CSIRO has developed an elution process for removing gold from strong base ion exchange resin used to recover gold thiosulfates, and when used with copper-ammonia as an oxidant for treating gravity concentrates, the gold leach rate can actually be higher than when using cyanide.

Thiosulfate was chosen for in-situ or in-place leaching of gold as it is more environmentally friendly than cyanide.

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